QUESTION OF THE DAY
The removal of many National Assembly members from their seats by simply dismissing them from a political party has motivated the current National Assembly members to call for the repeal of Section 91 Subsection 1 (d). It is important for readers to understand the genesis of Section 91 Subsection 1(d) and how it has been abused.
Under the 1970 Constitution, Ministers were required to be elected or nominated as members of Parliament. Hence the ruling party found it most convenient to woo elected members of the opposition camp to move to the side of the ruling party by offering them Ministerial posts. This was called cross carpeting.
In drafting the provisions of the 1997 Constitution, Section 91 Subsection 1 (d) was put in as a Constitutional provision.
It reads: “A member of the National Assembly shall vacate his or her seat in the National Assembly:
(d) if he or she ceases to be a member of the political party of which he or she was a member at the time of his or her election.’’
The ruling parties in the second Republic took advantage of this provision by dismissing National Assembly members from their parties and causing them to lose their seats. This undermined the independence of the National Assembly members and deprived them from carrying out their oversight role. Now that there is no ruling party in the Gambia, the provision is being revisited by National Assembly members with the aim to effect an amendment. Foroyaa will keep the readers informed.